Should Culture be Supreme?

Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations” (read for another class) posits that “the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will
not be primarily ideological or primarily economic” but economic. However, I’m not entirely sure that’s the best way to go.

(I have attached the paper below.)

Huntington argues for the dismantling of a more political form of identification on favour of one that is more cultural – particularly identities that are based around religion. He identifies seven or eight major civilizations in the modern world: “Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African” and notes that important future conflicts will most likely occur based on the cultural divides of these groups.

In his closing argument Huntington states that he is not of the belief that religious based civilization identities will replace other more political identities (inclusive of race, gender, and political ideologies) but that they will provide a more cohesive culture within civilizations and are more feasible.

What Huntington fails to take into account fully, however, is that despite cultural cohesion there are political identities that are inherently going to supersede cultural identities simply based on how factors like racecraft work.  While it was noted in class that racecraft works differently in different parts of the world (also shown in Kyle’s post “Am I Black?”) it cannot be denied that racecraft works in similar ways in Western (read North American and European) societies – that is, it works from the standpoint of white elitism. In order to get to a state of cultural and religious cohesion, there first needs to be a reworking of the internal political identities that are presented in heterogeneous societies.

Sam Huntington


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